Monday night, a few of my teammates and I had our last Veteran Leaders meeting to complete our four years of training in the Richard A. Baddour Leadership Academy. During the meeting, we spoke about three different types of teams: the underdog, the break-through, and the top dog. The status of each of these teams lend both advantages and disadvantages. In our case, my teammates and I decided that we are a top dog team. This is an advantage because we are held to a high degree of excellence, and we consistently bring in good recruiting classes. This is also a disadvantage, because it means that we have a lot to lose in comparison to the underdog teams, who have everything to gain. It’s very challenging to stay a top dog for a long period of time.
One situation that our conversation leader Jeff Janssen brought up was that of the Lion and the Gazelle in Africa:
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.”
The moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up you better be running.
As the top dog team, we compare to the lion. It’s easy to get complacent, when all you have to do is aim for the slowest gazelle. Yet before we know it, we’ll have picked off the slowest gazelle and will be headed for the fastest ones both in regular season and playoffs. One of our biggest challenges is to tap into our incredible individual talent in a way that will be cohesive for the team as a whole. We have so much depth, and so many different threats, but we need to find a way to play like we’re running for our lives, not like we should get dinner handed to us. However, that’s not to say that we’ve gotten hand-outs to be where we are. We have worked our butts off this year, so complacency isn’t necessarily the issue.
We have challenged ourselves mentally and physically more than we ever have in the past. Our work ethic has been truly very impressive this year. Therefore, we’re not like the complacent lion at all. We need to reflect on the work that we’ve put in throughout the year, how it has paid off at this point, and how it will continue to help us in the future as we prepare to take on the fastest gazelle.
The 2015 heels are not gazelles afraid of the fastest lion, nor are we complacent lions picking off the weaklings. We are a breed of athlete that feeds on the best in order to be the best.
There were other relevant situations that Jeff mentioned during the meeting, but the lion and gazelle quote really stuck with me. I feel that it’s a good reminder for many situations in life; if you ever get complacent or unappreciative with anything in life, find a way to spice things up again, and find appreciation for the little things that make you happy 🙂
Keep on runnin, gazelles.